12th July 2013
Our school at Sunrise belongs to a “Cluster” of schools (Cluster
6) which is part of the Kanifing Municipal Council area. This
week we have some pictures of some of the pupils and students
from Sunrise going to a Cluster 6 Party, funded by His
Excellency, President Yahya Jammeh during his “dialogue with the
people tour” country wide. This took part in a school not far
away, Bakoteh Proper Lower Basic. A huge number attended this
great day out made possible by the Presidents kind gesture.
We also sent out our
remaining Skills Students on an educational trip to a location
known as “My Farm”. This gets the students to learn first-hand
about the business of Agriculture, starting from the seed.
near Nema Kunku, Wellingara is run by aid from another
charitable foundation (see
www.africastartup.org ). The students saw many things
including a vast array of plants and new technological ideas
about solar cooking, instead of burning wood.
The season of Ramadan
has just begun in The Gambia (and across the Muslim world). This
is the story of what happens within one family during this
important religious time.
“My entire family
perform special prayers every night (“nafila”) to give our
intentions to Allah before we begin our fast for the next day
and we also thank Allah for enabling us to witness this year’s
holy Ramadan. Every morning at 5:00 am, we wake up to have a meal (zuhr)
before we begin our fast and then pray.
During Ramadan unlike
other days we begin cooking at 2:00 pm to make sure that by
6:00 pm everything is prepared for the breaking of fast which is
usually after 7:00 pm. We usually have tea/coffee, bread with an
accompany or porridge and a main meal which is usually rice with
Ramadan is a Holy
month which my family receives with respect because it only
comes once in a year.
RAMADAN MUBARAK to everyone!!!!”
Older Students and all
the Staff at Sunrise have to respect Ramadan too and things are
quite different during morning break when eating and talking is
exchanged for other distractions.
students during break on the first day of Ramadan.
during break on the first day of Ramadan.
School closes on 19th
July so that this is the last blog in the current academic year.
The Sunrise school
will re-open late in September, with another Lower Basic
classroom open ready for this year's Grade 1 students to
progress to Grade 2.
We are drawing to the
end of term in the Sunrise Centre quite soon but our building
works are still continuing.
I’m delighted to say that the new roof
is now in place, protecting our new 4 classroom extension for
the coming rains. We have had a few showers in the Banjul area
but rain has been quite significant further in land with some
The outside of the
building is also being finished, with the rendering of the
brickwork (locally known as “plastering”).
The remaining work to
complete the inside finishes of the building extension will be
authorised as the cash becomes available.
We are hoping to start
the downstairs finishing quite soon, thanks to our generous
Some of the soil is
suitable for gardening in the compound at Sunrise, though the
majority is really just sand. The caretakers have been trying
their hand at Gardening. We have quite a bit of agricultural
knowledge between Alassan, Saikou and Lamin. This is quite
common in Gambia where many people support the country’s
agriculture and we are encouraged to teach pupils and students
with a school garden. Early days for the bananas and other
plants but much more later, I hope . . . .
Practical work in the
skills training courses take place throughout the year and it is
always an opportunity to capture a colourful picture. Sendeng
managed to snap Nyima Sillah (First year) with her Tie and Dye
practical work just about dry
Since our last blog we
have had a very successful Graduation ceremony for 25 students
who are successfully leaving year 3 of Skills Training. Most of
these young people already have jobs, largely secured as a
result of completely a successful work experience programme set
up by the Sunrise Centre.
In the picture below
the graduates are shown posing with the teaching staff at
Sunrise. (More on this in our Newsletter, due out in August).
Later in the week the
remaining students enjoyed another Mufti Day. They each wore a
traditional outfit of dress or just enjoyed coming to school
without school uniform for the day. Those that could afford it,
paid D5 (10p) for the privilege, the cash going towards school
Here are Jarra, Awa and Iastou in dress from their traditional
Later on Sendeng
(our administrator) also caught up with the children in Lower
Basic 1, with Mrs Jawara . . . . .
. . . and Nursery 2,
with Mrs Sanneh . . .
. . and Nursery 1, with Mrs Cham.
Mrs Cham leaves this
class next term to teach in our Lower Basic School, helping to
continue the education of Lower Basic 2 class, mostly promoted
from within the Sunrise Centre. We have already interviewed and
appointed a new teacher waiting to start to take over from Mrs
Cham. More later . . .
Teacher Meeting was held to elect the School Management
Committee, a requirement of the Gambian Education Department.
Here is Helen and the new committee together with Mr Jarju, the
Cluster Monitor (school inspector), who is squatting in front of
the Sunrise SMC holding the School Management Manual which is
provided by the Education Department for every Lower and Upper
As I am going home this week after
spending eight weeks at Sunrise, I had a last look around the
classes and saw Njange and Florian from LB 1 painting the
patterns which they had cut out.
Nursery 1 were busy colouring,
developing their fine motor control, whilst thoroughly enjoying
Nursery 2 were busy
looking at books
Later I saw LB1 again, this
time Momodou Faja was chasing Mrs Jawara as they were playing
Fire on the Mountain in the hall.
No pictures of the skills
this week, although they have also been very busy, practising
songs and plays for their graduation ceremony. I am sure
next week's blog will be full of photos of them at the
Many of the third year skills students, who have finished their
exams, have been into school to talk about Graduation Day, which
will happen on 22nd June.
The staff have also put in a lot planning to make sure that the
Graduation Day is a joy for all and goes smoothly. I caught up
Manyima Jagne (2011/2 Head girl), Njie Faye and Awa Sowe (two of
in uniform) together with “Auntie”, who brings in food that she cooks at
home to sell, every day.
Earlier, also at break-time, Amie and Mbacho handed out free
food to the pupils from the Nursery school, as they do every
day. This food is funded by donations paid into a feeding
programme every year by our supporters.
Later in the week I caught up with some of the Lower Basic
School pupils who had been reading to the school assembly. They
stood a little longer for a photo call before returning to their
Although the sun seems to be getting even hotter at this time of
year it doesn’t seem to worry the students playing football
outside. Sport is something that really motivates many young
people and football is a common discussion point here. Last
weekend the Gambian National team had been performing against
Ivory Coast, losing 3-0 at home in the World Cup Qualifiers. The
result didn’t tell the whole picture, since The Gambian side
The Lower Basic School is now growing a new roof, the extension
is quite clear now. Just in time before the rains begin. We have
also had a go at levelling the ground around the front of the
school to minimise the floods that we had last year. Only time
will tell if this really helps!
The week began in the usual way, with a Skills assembly. This
week Mr Ali Bah conducted the event but it was marked by
sadness. We had heard that the mother of one of the pupils had
passed away. The students held a minute's silence to pay their
respects before filing out to their classes.
We were much happier to welcome a new member of staff to our
growing team. Marokey Bolang has joined us to help as a
classroom assistant in Skills Training. She is a previous
student, graduating 1 year ago, so everything is very familiar
to Marokey. However, starting a new job is always a little
nerve–racking for most people, but by the end of the week she
seemed to have settled in.
Monday was a long day, ending with a PTA meeting to update
parents on the workings of the centre and the changes planned
for the next academic year. We had support from our good friend,
Mrs Chow, who is a very respected member of the community. Mrs
Chow is a retired head-mistress and member of the Gambian
Education Department team. We also had support from Mr Jarjue,
our local Cluster Monitor (School Inspector). Subjects discussed
ranged from the production of next year's uniforms, an increase
in school fees and how to involve the community more in the
running of the Sunrise Centre.
Every year since we have helped at Sunrise, the Skills Students
have made the Tie and Dye cloth for a Nursery School at London
Corner, the school who competed against Sunrise in a Sports Day
last week. Helen administers this nursery school for a
Scottish Charity, based in Dumbarton. Sufficient material was
produced to dress 90 pupils and all the staff in their
distinctive yellow and black colours.
Mr Darboe is seen here with the students bringing the materials
to be transported to London Corner, located just on the edge of
We sometimes have events that
cause our First Aiders to spring into action. Here Mr Ali
Bah is washing a sore eye for Mariamma Bah (no relation).
Some eye infections are quite
common in the Gambia and spread quickly due to the friendly
nature of everyone, usually greeting each other by shaking
hands. Although not serious, the saline solution proved
helpful to Mariamma.
We are delighted that our builder has now returned to the Gambia
to help us complete the Phase 2. Work has started immediately to
try and complete the new roof to protect the fabric from the
rains, due soon. This is skilled work and begins with lots of
sawing and angle-grinding of metal work to make the “Trusses”
that support the roof. The worker (Tijan) shown here is using an
old car engine frame as a bench and his foot as the vice to hold
the metal work.
In the next picture the roofers can be seen welding the metal
work into the “Truss”, with 2 others beneath, to act as a
pattern or template.
In the Sunrise Lower Basic school the children seem to break
(or eat!) lots of pencils each day. Dawn has been helping in
Sunrise since the end of April, giving lots of support in many
varied ways to the LBS1 Teacher, Mrs Jawara. As well as taking
training sessions and teaching children, Dawn takes her turn at
sharpening masses of pencils.
We also get ready at this time of year for registration of next
year’s new students. This begins in June and we advertise
school places using locally made cloth signs on the gates of the
school. Sendeng and Helen are examining the sign to see if it is
as described to the artist. On this occasion an extra “L” has
appeared in the word enrol!
This week in Sunrise we have been looking hard at the discipline
in our Lower Basic class. We have refreshed our approach to
discipline and asked Kaddy Jawara (our teacher) to be much
firmer with the children. We have also been keen to reward good
behaviour too. Ya Jey Mbye was the best behaved student on
she was given the octopus mask to say thank you.
On the run up to Sports Day, the Nursery and Lower Basic pupils
have been practising some of the events in advance. This
reflects the very competitive view that all Gambians seem to
have from an early age. The event was a repeat of last
year:-Sunrise v London Corner School.
On the actual day the children enjoyed a wonderful day with no
rain and bright sunshine! The competition was very tight and
although I pushed to get a result I was told that “Everyone was
a Winner!”. The events were very varied, ranging from running
races to Lemon and Spoon racing, water play, musical chairs and
Practising musical chairs -
The actual competition-
Some of our skills students also worked with the teachers to
manage and capture the results. This had been a problem last
year but was much better, with clear results and little debate.
The picture shows Susan Jarjue (from Skills 2) with Isatou
Jallow(Sunrise), winner of the Girls 60m Dash. The Boys 60m
Dash was won by Bubacarr Saho, also from Sunrise.
The picture below shows the Girls picking up the balls in
basket, won by Sajo Jammeh from Sunrise.
Sherrif Tamba, from Sunrise Nursery 1, and two boys in red
shirts,from London Corner, are all ready for their race.
The boys sack race was won in
spectacular fashion by Bubacarr Saho (again) from Sunrise.
London Corner won the girls sack race
with the help of Alimatou Cessay.
London Corner also won the Water Play
competition. This involved 4 contestants from each team moving
water from one bucket to another, with just their hands. The
picture shows the London Corner team in red, with shouted
support from Haddy (LC cleaner) and Kemo (LC Teacher).
Lunch was wonderful and cooked by the cooking staff from London
Corner, Isatou Kambi (Teacher in Charge Mr Sulayman Saidy’s
wife) and Binta Cessay.
Following lunch many of the adults (including parents) present
formally handed out medals and trophies to the children. Most
seemed to have something but a few gifted athletes had more than
one. The picture shows all the medal winners. Thanks go to our
supporters; Debbie and Graham Bradley from the Isle of Man who,
with help from their friends, provided us with the medals.
A long and tiring but very enjoyable day for all.
This week we saw several students and pupils coming into school
to collect fees for school or college. One of them, Allen Loppy,
is the brother of one of our 3rd year Skills students, Elizabeth
Loppy. Allen is attending a Study of Tourism course and is
hoping to support the many businesses
servicing tourists in The Gambia. This is a new opportunity made
possible by sponsorship from Richard Beech, after they met
during his trip to The Gambia earlier this year.
We also had a visit to the Sunrise Office from Rabiatou and Tida
Jarra, with their older sister Mamanding, who helps take care of
them. They attend New Convent School in Serrekunda. Mike Moran
and Angela Dillon have been sponsoring the family for a while
Although it is hot each day and it hasn’t rained since last
October (except for a few drops in January), things continue to
grow in the soil and sand mixture around the Sunrise school
complex. One of these plants is a stubborn tuber, known by the
locals as a plant that can even grow through a concrete floor in
a building and destroy foundations. It becomes a high priority
to dig these up from the soil, at a depth of a metre at times,
and destroy them. Our caretaker, Saiko is seen in the picture
doing just this. A tuber of this rampant shrub is seen propped
against the compound wall.
The Third Year Skills students have been doing their final
written exams this week. They have come back from their work
experiences and similar to last year more than 70% have promises
of paid employment or will go back to apprentice positions on an
expenses basis (generally food and bus fare) .
It is now the end of
the main tourist season and the two pictures below were taken at
seven o'clock on Saturday night!
Looking up towards the
Looking down towards the
GTS restaurant, now only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday
No more late night drumming
and dancing at the Wild Monkey! Everything has been packed away
till next season.
School continues as usual,
although all the schools had a day off on Thursday for Ascension
Day as schools get both Muslim and Christian holidays. This week
the third year skills students have been doing their final
practical exams. Here are two students preparing their pieces of
cloth for their tie and dye practical.
Meanwhile other students
were busy preparing their chosen dishes during the cookery
Cooking finished, they
carefully laid out their resulting dishes in an attractive
display, ready to be assessed and marks awarded, both for taste
Then the staff were asked
to come along to see the results. Whilst Helen closely
questioned the students about the actual cooking processes,
other members of staff spent quite a while tasting them!
Our visitors this week
were from Holland, Rudy and Yolanda Nachtegaal. They had seen
Fran's old Gambia Tourist Support website so went to the GTS
restaurant and, fortunately, Helen happened to be there. She
told them how our educational charity, GETS, grew from GTS and
arranged to bring them to visit Sunrise, so here they are with
some of the nursery children.
This week our Lower Basic
class had reached the pages in their maths text book about
shapes, so they drew pictures using triangles, squares,
rectangles and circles.
It will soon be sports day
and the children are already beginning to practise!
On Friday the skills
students enjoyed competing to answer questions during a
quiz on all aspects of their work at Sunrise.
week our visitors were Janet Marsh and her daughter Adele. They
were staying at the same hotel as Ian and during conversation
had said that a visit to a small local nursery had tempted them
to try and help the school in some way. Ian invited them to
come and see Sunrise to give them an idea of what could be
achieved - with a lot of hard work and generous supporters.
Their driver 'Skinny' was a keen and interested bystander.
In school the nursery
classes were having an activity period - musical chairs! Mr
Mbye and the teachers enjoyed it almost as much as the children.
As with all schools the
children are of mixed ability, here the LBS teacher Mrs Jawara
is doing some additional reading work with Njange Mbye.
It's a busy time in the Tie&Dye class too where the students are
making uniform material for the London Corner school that we
administer. The bolts of cloth are first dyed yellow: this is a
The cloth is then tied and given a second
dunking in black to produce the final 'random' mottled colour
effect - with quite a bit less black than the sample shown! Mr
Darboe, the Tie &Dye teacher, looks as though he's playing hide
Dawn arrived in school on
Wednesday and has spent almost all her time since in LBS - but
she did find time to queue up with Helen for a spicy bean roll
at break time.
On my last full day in the
school this visit I took a walk around the quiet, empty
classrooms to tuck the scene away in the memory banks! Chairs
on desks, it could be a school anywhere in the UK. But it isn't
and it is a fine tribute to the hardworking staff and also the
many, many supporters who have made it possible.
Sunrise is open again
after the spring holiday - a welcome break for staff and
Because it is getting to
the end of the tourist season there have been few visitors this
week, in fact only two. Karl Ward and his partner Cathy came to
bring in some resources and get feedback from Helen on the
progress of Binta Drammeh the student they sponsor at Kunkujang
Keitaya Upper Basic School.
We like to keep a track of
visitors so that, if they wish, we can keep them up to date on
Sunrise and the pupils. Here Karl is signing our Visitors ook,
which we keep hidden amongst the foliage.
Talking of foliage, the
Cashew tree near the front entrance of the school is just
starting to fruit - adding greatly to the number of nuts that
can be seen in and around Sunrise!
I have noticed that the
school grounds are much cleaner than on my previous visit,
possibly because at the moment there are no builders on site,
but definitely helped by the little litter pickers who do a
sweep of the area outside their classrooms before assembly!
No builders in sight!
Sadly our builder Eric has had to return to the UK a few weeks
ago to sort out some medical problems. Because he has a very
tight hold on the purse strings the workers are doing other
things until he returns at the end of the month, hopefully in
time to get the roof on before the rains arrive. It is
This term, the final year
Skills students are back from their work placements and here you
can see them on the left briefing the first and second year
students on their experiences and what they have learnt during
their three months on the front line.
And finally, after work
had finished on Friday afternoon I spotted Skills student Awa
Joof practicing her hairdressing skills on Sendeng applying
'hair extensions' - whatever they are!